Chapter 9 Agents and stewards in nonprofit governance
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A stewardship relation can be considered to be an agency relation characterized by identical principal and agent objectives, preventing agency problems from arising. If the agent’s objectives differ from the principal’s, forcing the agent to pursue (as much as possible) the principal’s objectives leads to ‘quasi-stewardship’: compared to a ‘pure’ stewardship situation, resources have to be spent to bend the agent’s behaviour. However, it is not because agency and stewardship can be thought of as lying on the same continuum that they cannot be perceived differently in terms of, for example, approach, implied motivation and expected behaviour. These differences need not be of a dichotomous nature, but can accrue gradually, alongside the continuum. As of today, a number of inventive methods have been devised to assess organizations’ locations on the agency-stewardship continuum, using the obtained values as dependent or independent variables in organization-level research.

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